Friday, November 12, 2010

Tyag (Sadhana)

$1000 - nothing beats ten fresh, crisp Benjamins... so start today's sabha with prizing one lucky audience member.

(NOTE: Monopoly money works just as well unless of course we as presenters have the money to make someone's Sunday.)

Now, our guest has three options to make some more.
  • Flip a coin: heads = +$1000 
  • Flip a coin: tails = nothing
  • Don't flip a coin = +$500
Ask our guest what they would do, and ask the audience what they would do in such a scenario.

Now it gets better - let's give another one of our audience members double. That's right, twenty fresh, crisp Benjamins. However, they now have a slightly different dilemma.
  • Flip a coin: heads = -$1000
  • Flip a coin: tails = nothing
  • Don't flip a coin = -$500
As in the last case, ask our second guest what they would do, and ask the audience what they would do in such a scenario. 

In a similar psychological experiment conducted by Yale researcher Laurie Santos, most people went with the third option in the first scenario - that is they chose not to flip the coin and walk away with an extra $500 (a guaranteed total of $1500). 

In the second scenario, most people chose to flip the coin - a 50/50 shot at all or none. Hardly anybody chose to take a guaranteed loss of $500 which, interestingly enough, results in the same amount that most people walked away with in the first scenario of $1500. 

What's going on? And why again are we talking about money when the topic is tyag, the giving up of material goods?

Tyag is a two-way street: whatever we give up, we receive in a different form.

Let's take a turn down the first street - the lane of loss. We find tyag so difficult because we are biologically primed against loss; psychologists call it loss aversion. That's why when the housing market tanked, people refused to forego their properties even in the face of rising debts. 

Let's revisit our second scenario here and the payoffs for each option.
  • Flip a coin: heads = -$1000 ($2000-$1000=$1000)
  • Flip a coin: tails = nothing ($2000-0=$2000)
  • Don't flip a coin = -$500 ($2000-$500=$1500)
The first & third options result in a net loss of some sort while the second option results in no net loss.

In Satsang, we are all too familiar with our niyams - no eating out, no onion/garlic, no TV, no movies, etc - and we phrase them in the context of our second scenario.
  • If I take a niyam, I may lose out a lot.
  • If I take a niyam, I may not lose out.
  • If I don't a niyam, I lose out but not as much.
And this mentality constricts and curtails our connection to Swamishri.

Let's ponder for a second, 

"Does this man have my best interest at heart? 


If so, then we can only gain from following his guidance.

That's why our previous attempts at reframing our options fell short and proved incomplete.
  • If I take a niyam, I may lose out a lot but will gain A LOT.
  • If I take a niyam, I may not lose out but will gain NOTHING.
  • If I don't a niyam, I lose out but not as much but will not also gain as much. 
Alright, enough of the sticky sabha shenanigans; what exactly do we stand to gain if we do elect for the first route?

Rajipo - the seed of success - and don't take our word for it, a survey of the plethora of prasangs proves this idea to its fullest.
  • In Shriji Maharaj's time, the 500 paramhanso placed themselves in that path and succeeded to establish the Swaminarayan Sampraday.
  • Our gurus, from Gunatitanand Swami to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, served their guru and succeeded to push their mentor's efforts to a new level.
  • Our sanstha's haribhakto today reflect that sentiment in all they do as commemorated in the Shatabdi Mahotsav. (Prasangs can be found in this issue of Bliss).
Let's remember, tyag is a two-way street: whatever we give up, we receive as rajipo.

After all, the lane of loss pales...


in comparison to the roadway of returns!

1 comment:

  1. Dude whoever this is mad props to you!

    ReplyDelete